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Emma Baldwin ‘21 (DOT) is taking the lead for DEI efforts in OT

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During her time at the University of Indianapolis, Dr. Emma Baldwin, OTD, PCBIS ’21 (Doctor of Occupational Therapy) was carving out a place for herself and building momentum for her career that she hopes will continue well beyond graduation. 

At UIndy, Baldwin was a member of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) and then in a leadership role by her second year. She also helped form, and later co-chair, a Chapter of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) at UIndy within the OT program. Beyond campus, she volunteered once a month for adaptive climbing at EPIC climbing gym. 

“I can say truthfully that all of those experiences are leading where my life will continue to go as time passes, and they made me feel welcome and like I had a safe place at the University of Indianapolis,” said Baldwin. “I have continued to stay involved in national leadership roles in the organization COTAD, which is really exciting.” 

Baldwin credits the School of Occupational Therapy and numerous professors for helping her begin a successful and fruitful career and for helping her find her passion within OT. 

“The program really teaches you to be self-directed in motivating and finding your learning, which is going to be extremely helpful for continuing with evidence-based practice once I am an OT practitioner,” she said. “I also think it has allowed me the space and driven me to find my passion for being a leader in advocating for positive change related to justice, equity, diversity, inclusion (JEDI), anti-racism, and anti-oppression. This I will surely carry with me for the rest of my life.”

And the momentum hasn’t stopped yet—Baldwin is staying active and involved as she prepares for the next step in her career. She’s currently coaching a high school field hockey team while studying for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After that, she’s excited to pursue travel therapy and explore the United States and areas of practice within OT. She’s also working on solidifying a leadership role with COTAD to continue pursuing JEDI, anti-racism, and anti-oppression work. 

“What I admire most about Emma is that she is one of those very capable leaders who sees a problem, makes a plan to correct the problem, then takes a leadership role in gathering together like-minded individuals to collaborate and solve the problem,” said Dr. Lucinda Dale, professor in the School of Occupational Therapy. “Particularly in identifying and sharing concerns related to equity, diversity, and inclusivity, Emma’s leadership locally and nationally in the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) resulted in productive conversations and real change. Her resume shows countless presentations and publications, all geared towards improving inclusivity both in academic environments and her chosen profession of occupational therapy. Emma’s tireless efforts have been an inspiration to educators, students, and professionals who will continue to benefit from her passion to create a more inclusive world.”

Baldwin says incoming freshmen or high school students looking for a university program should consider what they want from a university and to find a place that will help them get where they want to be personally and professionally. She stressed that safety, how represented you are, and how welcome you feel at a school and in a program should play a crucial role in choosing a school. “Where the program can get you is important, but how safe and welcome you feel while you’re there is also critical to consider,” she said.

“UIndy totally prepared me well for fieldwork and the board exam,” she said. “The academic rigor of some courses is unparalleled. I also think that the School of Occupational Therapy has improved at listening to feedback from students very well lately to become a more inclusive, safe, and positive environment for diverse students. My favorite thing about UIndy would probably be my cohort and the friends that I made along the way. I really found people who I truly care about and who support me with no end. I found a place where I could be 100 percent myself, become a leader, and also continue to grow.”